Here’s Why Being A “Quitter” Is Actually A Positive Thing

“Don’t be a quitter!” 

It’s something we’ve all heard at some point in our lives. Many of us heard it as a child, say, when we wanted to quit sports; some of us have heard it as adults, when we’ve wanted to quit our jobs after a frustrating day. No matter your age, it’s a common saying.

But I’m here to tell you: the people who say that aren’t always right. 

No, you shouldn’t quit your job because you received a less than stellar performance review. No, you shouldn’t immediately break up with your new significant other because they pushed a button they didn’t know about. But there are absolutely times when “quitting” is the best thing you can do for yourself. Here’s why we need to embrace being a quitter.


The Stigma Of Being A “Quitter”

One of the main reasons people don’t remove themselves from toxic situations is guilt. The non-quitter will tell themselves that sticking it out is better than letting go of something – even if that something is obviously not good for them. Whether it’s a toxic relationship or degrading job, many stay, especially if the toxic situation directly guilt trips them. (Think: “Don’t leave me, I’ll be lost without you.”)

Another huge reason people don’t quit: they equate quitting with failure and/or weakness. If they leave a job they once wanted, it’s because they weren’t good enough to handle it. If they cut out a mean friend, it’s just another relationship that’s been ruined. 


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And if the other person/company/etc. lets go of the wanna-be quitter, it’s an even bigger pain point – especially, god forbid, when the quitter feels a sense of relief from the break up. They had wanted to leave the job, and the company fired them, for example – the person may be happy that they no longer have to go through days on autopilot, but they may also believe that their unhappy, “quitter” mentality potentially affected their job performance. Because of this, they failed.

Relationships can be even harder to leave, and not just romantic partnerships – friends and family can also be difficult (if not more difficult) to cut ties with. Family and friends are bound to get on our nerves at times, but when they constantly tease, insult, and even abuse (emotionally, verbally, or physically) you, it can take a serious toll on your mental health. Yet quitters will stay, desperate to “fix” the relationship and let the abuse roll off their back. Cutting off relationships, no matter how toxic, can feed into insecurities, like believing you could have stayed friends if you had just tried harder. 

Basically: quitting is stressful, and the idea of quitting – not to mention the guilt and perceived failure that come with it – can be so nerve-wracking that it seems more comfortable just to stay where we are…even when where we are isn’t healthy.


When To Be A Quitter

As I mentioned, small inconveniences every now and then shouldn’t be the sole reason to “quit” that area of your life. But if you are constantly hoping to leave a situation, that’s a sign that something should change. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons, discuss the idea of quitting with those outside of the situation, and – perhaps most importantly – objectively acknowledge the toll it’s taking on your mental health.

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These are some common situations that indicate it’s time to change:

An Unhealthy Relationship

Unhealthy relationships are easy to enter, and easy to stay in – especially if you’re a particularly sensitive person. (Me. I’m a particularly sensitive person.) Accepting pain as the status quo and adjusting to the abuse can seem easier than having a large argument and walking out. This is an insanely important situation to quit – when you’re allowing yourself to be degraded, it’s a clear sign that this person isn’t the one for you. Pack your bags, say goodbye, and quit for your own mental (and potentially physical) health.

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A Toxic Friend

Friends should be there to lift you up, make you smile, cry with you, and be your biggest cheerleaders. So, when you make friends with someone, it’s easy to latch on to the connection. However, red flags tend to show themselves quickly – and it’s important to acknowledge them and run. For example, if your friend is constantly bad-mouthing others, I have some unfortunate news: they’re probably bad-mouthing you, too. (I learned this the hard way.) Quit that sh*t immediately. Even though good friends are hard to come by, don’t settle for mediocre bonds. 

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An Unappreciative Job 

If you constantly feel that you’re unappreciated, unheard, or otherwise taken advantage of, it’s time to assess the situation. Why did you enter this job? What were you hired to do? Are you being treated like a valued employee? Are you being paid fairly? If your answer to any of these is even slightly off the mark, it’s time to talk to someone. If you feel that you can’t go to your boss – or if you do go to them, and they’re dismissive – and you’re unhappy on a daily basis, it’s okay to start searching for new jobs where you’ll actually feel respected.

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An Unhelpful Therapist

I’ve been here before, and I’ve made the unfortunate mistake of sticking it out. Long story short: my therapist wouldn’t allow me to talk about issues she thought were irrelevant. She referred me to “relationship rehab” during our second session. I learned quickly that if your therapist isn’t listening to you, helping you get past sticky situations, or is making you feel uncomfortable speaking up and openly about your life, end the relationship. There are other therapists out there that will give you the outlet you deserve, and it’s okay to “shop around” before committing to one.(We wrote about that.) 

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A Hobby That Frustrates You

Yes, everyone should at least try to find a hobby – they’re fantastic outlets. But if you only ever feel edgy or frustrated during it, rather than happy to be practicing or excited to get better, that’s a good sign that it’s not meant for you. It’s okay to quit a hobby you thought you might like, or one you enjoyed in the past. If it’s something you only enjoy when you’re good at it, instead of something you enjoy no matter the outcome, set it down and find something else.

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How To Move On From “Quitting”

Quitting is hard, even if you know it needs to happen. But there are ways to fight back against that guilt which can consume you immediately after.

 1. Acknowledge that you tried your best. No matter how hard you push for something to work, you can’t fit square pegs into circular holes. Be proud of yourself for your dedication to the situation, then remind yourself that quitting is also something to be proud of.

2. Put up boundaries. Don’t give yourself wholeheartedly to someone who hasn’t earned your trust, because this can make it easier to be taken advantage of. Create boundaries and stick to them. If someone pushes too hard, don’t fold – you don’t have to defend yourself, and don’t apologize, either. 

3. Allow yourself to grow from quitting. If you’re still having trouble accepting that you’ve “quit,” reframe that idea. In removing yourself from the situation, you’ve allowed for significant growth. So, yes, you left a situation, but the lessons you learned from it are invaluable to your future self.

4. Forgive yourself. This step is one of the most crucial to moving past the negative “quitter” title. Accept that you had to cut ties for your own mental health, repeat that you are not a failure, and move on with the knowledge you’ve taken away from the situation.


We hope this article has helped you feel less guilt in being a “quitter.” What have you quit? What helped lessen the guilt? Let us know in the comments.

For More Articles On Mental Health, Read These:

I’m Having A Mid-Life Crisis – These Are 6 Ways I’m Coping With It

The Sandwich Generation Is Overwhelmed. These Tips Can Help You Manage That Stress

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